Sluggish Offense Comes Back to Haunt Soccer

Evan Xenopoulos

Despite its 1-0 loss to American in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament, the Colgate men’s soccer team has clearly shown that it will be a force in the Patriot League next season.

After earning a clutch victory against Holy Cross in order to qualify for the tournament, the Raiders knew they had a big challenge in the semifinals. American had already beaten the Raiders in the regular season, but the men knew they had the ability to win in the postseason.

The game was in the first half as both teams had their share of opportunities. Junior goalie Doug Litvack played excellent in net with the help of the Raider defense, which helped the team maintain a scoreless tie at the half.

However, a quick goal by American’s Phil Purdy, the Patriot League Rookie of the Year, in the 67th minute gave American a 1-0 advantage. The goal came from 30 yards out, and it clearly took both teams by surprise.

The Raiders continued to press, and the team almost evened the game many times, but excellent defense and goalkeeping by American held the Raiders in check. The game would end 1-0, but the Raiders gave everything they had and came very close to sending the game into overtime.

“We played our best soccer of the year during that game,” head coach Erik Ronning said. “American scored a surprising goal from that far out, but we made a great effort to come back. American’s goalie made some great saves to give them the win, but anyone could have won that game today. Even so, I am pleased with the season and it is a great accomplishment to have made the Patriot League Tournament.”

The team will lose three seniors, Sean O’Sullivan, Derek Johnson and Bryant Meckley, all of whom will be missed for the vital roles they played on this year’s team.

The team, however, still has many key pieces returning next season. Most important is the duo of junior Devin Deane and sophomore Eric Anton, both of whom were named to the all-Patriot League second team. In the midfield, the team will return juniors Eli Meyers and Charlie Lambropoulos, who will assume a greater leadership role as seniors. The team also will bring back a strong core of underclassmen. Sophomores Dan Belke, Michael Mulanaphy, Simon Jarcho and Mike Parshley, as well as first-years Glenn Volk and Jimmy Stephens, will use their ample experience and will be very important to the team’s success.

“I am pleased with this year; we have set the bar high for the future,” Ronning said. “We should expect to qualify for the Patriot League Tournament every year and now our big goal should be winning the Patriot League Tournament. We have a great core of experienced guys coming back and they must all work to improve in the offseason. The only way we can have success is if we continue to work as hard as we did this season and I believe that we can do that.”

The Raiders had a solid season and now the future looks brighter than ever. The team has almost all of its starters coming back, in addition to the immense depth on the bench. The Raiders may not have won the Patriot League Championship this season, but look for the team to strive towards that goal in 2006.